CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS
Thursday’s second round
St. Lucy’s def. Westlake 25-16, 25-23, 25-11
Los Osos def. Los Altos 25-17, 25-16, 25-23
Templeton def. San Dimas 25-17, 15-25, 25-17, 25-21
Sage Hill def. Rosemead 25-10, 25-18, 25-11
La Sierra def. Northview 25-10, 25-11, 25-18
La Puente def. Desert 18-25, 25-21, 25-12, 25-13
Laguna Blanca def. Gladstone 25-22, 25-19, 25-14
St. Lucy’s at El Dorado, 7 p.m.
La Puente at St. Anthony, 7 p.m.
By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
After peppering Los Altos at the net during Thursday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA girls volleyball second-round match with thunderous over-hand rights, Los Osos junior Ashten Smith-Gooden’s biggest point came on a delicate serve late in the third set.
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter broke a 23-23 tie with a serve that dropped in for an ace and Los Osos went on to sweep Los Altos 25-17, 25-16 and 25-23 to reach Saturday’s quarterfinals against the winner between fourth-seed Downey and San Luis Obispo.
Smith-Gooden finished with 15 kills to lead the Grizzlies (22-12), but it was her serve that knocked the air out of the Conquerors, who led most of the third set and was hoping to seize the momentum and stretch the match to a fourth set.
“I was nervous but I stayed focused,” Smith-Gooden said. “The crowd was getting into it and it got intense. When it dropped (in) it was a huge sigh of relief.”
Smith-Gooden, a junior already verbally committed to the University of California, was dominant throughout along with junior Ashley Kaylor, who finished with eight kills and nine digs.
“She’s a very talented athlete and they play very well around her,” Los Altos coach Jamie Ornelas said of Smith-Gooden. “We did our best to slow her down, but you can’t stop an athlete like that.”
That’s exactly what Los Osos coach Franco Macchia has been saying all season.
“We’ve played Redondo, Los Alamitos, Vista Murrieta and St. Lucy’s and nobody’s stopped her (Smith-Gooden),” Macchia said. “I didn’t think they matched up well. I thought we had more power offensively and our girls were stronger, but I got nervous in the third.
“Volleyball’s a game of momentum and when you’re on your opponents court and you have a chance to close it out, you have to to close it and not give them life.”
Los Altos fell behind quick in each of the first two sets, partly because of unforced errors, and never climbed back.
In the third Los Altos’ Fabiana Rosas, who finished with a team-high 10 kills, tried bringing the Conquerors back along with Marisa Rojo (eight kills) and Morelia Castro (six kills).
Los Altos led 22-20 and 23-22 lead, but Los Osos’ Jenna Willis came up with a kill to tie it and Smith-Gooden’s serve set up match point.
Willis, who finished with six kills, closed it out with a kill down the line, ending Los Altos’ (22-9-1) season after finishing undefeated in the Hacienda League.
“We had some service issues in the beginning and were a little startled,” Ornelas said. “With the height they have it’s almost an undercover handicap. We had to get into it and feel our rhythm. Once we settled we were fine and got it going.
“But you don’t know what the crystal ball holds. I’ve seen teams come back from two down and win the next three but it didn’t pan out the way we hoped.”